Hebrews 13:7 (NIV) “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV) “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
I am a Trustee of Hamilton District Foodbank. We have provided food parcels for 840 people in the last six weeks. Twenty people a day in our community currently depend on us for food – a figure that is rapidly increasing. And those who can’t afford food also struggle for fuel, for toiletries, for clothes, etc. When we started ten years ago we were mostly helping single, adult people with Benefits issues and giving a maximum of three no-frills food parcels that each lasted for three days. It was enough to sort things out. Now, the majority of those who come to us are families, who are employed and working hard, and needing help for months rather than days. They often carry a deep sense of shame and failure when they have to ask a Foodbank for help.
Yet an elected ‘leader’ recently suggested that the real issue is a generation who “can’t cook or budget,” claiming that his Foodbank can teach people to work wonders with 30p a day: something that would rival the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. I hear another ‘leader’ suggest that some who currently visit Foodbanks could simply “get an additional job or get a job which pays more”: surely a miracle on the level of creatio ex nihilo. Should we laugh or cry – or get angry – at leaders so disconnected from reality?
It’s all made me reflect on leaders and representatives and leading and serving. I wonder if the best leaders are those who can remain connected to the real issues of real people? Those who have actually “been there”? Those who can lead by example? It’s made me wonder too when I last heard a sermon on ‘servant leadership’ or saw an act of truly ‘sacrificial service.’ Oops: ‘When did I last preach one? When did I last do one? What example do I set?’ Remember: Whenever we point a finger at anyone else, there are always three more curled right back at us.
Our College’s worth and relevance is in the passion for creating reflective, capable, honest, connected, non-judgemental, servant leaders with a conscience and with a will to make this a better world…servant leaders who follow the example of Christ. They are not perfect leaders (does such a thing exist?!) but they’re seeking to make a real difference.